Citadel: Easy Groupware

September 5, 2007 | technology
For the last several months, I’ve been powering bit qua bit’s mail system with Citadel. In the yonder years, Citadel was a very powerful BBS for Unix systems. As the bulletin board days drew to a close, and its developers began searching for a way to keep Citadel relevant, they hit upon the idea of turning it into a groupware system. The current version of Citadel runs on most Unix platforms, supports secure IMAP, SMTP, and POP3 out of the box, provides the GroupDAV protocol for synchronizing…

New Open-Source Squeak Book

September 4, 2007 | programming
I was pleasantly surprised today to discover Squeak by Example, an open-source book on writing programs with Squeak Smalltalk. If you want the bleeding-edge version of the book right now, you’ll need Subversion and an up-to-date LaTeX installation, but a physical book and online PDF are also available if you don’t want to muck with all that. Combined with Stéphane Ducasse’s compilation of free Smalltalk books, I don’t think any Smalltalk neophyte should be wanting for learning material.

The Open XML Debate, Revisited

August 30, 2007 | politics, programming, technology
From Slashdot, which is slowly redeeming itself, comes a link to Microsoft admitting that it bribed members of the Swedish ISO committee to vote for OOXML. Unsurprisingly, the Swedish ISO committee just voided its own vote. Due to time crunch, they will not be casting a vote at all in the Open XML ratification process. I find it depressing but predictable that I’m unsurprised.

The WSJ on Open XML

August 30, 2007 | politics, programming, technology
I think that the Wall Street Journal does a fairly good job covering technology from a consumer’s perspective, but I feel that they struggle whenever they try to cover more industry-focused issues, making outright mistakes and failing to understand what in the debate is actually important, which leads them to follow up (or fail to) on the wrong points. Today was no exception: in an article entitled “‘Office’ Wars,” they attempted to cover the politics revolving around Microsoft’s efforts to get…

Dreams Dashed in C++; News at Eleven

August 29, 2007 | programming
In my previous article, I discussed some alternatives to C++ for systems programming. Today, I want to provide an example of why you might care. Tyler and I recently debated rewriting Fog Creek Copilot in Qt, a powerful, high-level, cross-platform C++ framework. The idea came to us when we started discussing the implications of maintaining four helper applications (Windows Helper, Windows Helpee, Mac Helper, Mac Helpee), each of which shares depressingly little code with the others. Because Qt…

Avoiding the Masochist's Programming Language

August 28, 2007 | programming
As you may or may not know, ANSI is trying to push a new C++ standard out the door called C++0x (which those of you who know C may find amusing, since you can read it “C++ Hex”). C++0x’s primary goal is to take C++'s already horribly convoluted syntax and make it even worse. Looking at a summary of C++0x’s additions, for example, we come across the concept of rvalue references, expressed as int &&x. With this move, C++ now has a bizarre hybrid of pointers and handles that solves a legitimate…

First Impressions of Movable Type 4

August 27, 2007 | technology
I’d sometimes like to think that I can be a purely rational person, but the fact is that I’m anything but. I’ll ignore software that does what I want if it’s not “pretty,” and I’ll often ignore software that does what I want and is pretty if it’s not “open enough.” I favor using the NYC Subway or walking instead of taking the bus, even when I know darn well the bus is the fastest option. I frequently ignore weather reports when I leave in the morning, instead going by what I feel the weather’s…

Writing an Emulator

August 4, 2007 | programming, technology
I don’t know why, but recently, as my love of really low-level hardware and my desire for low-power, high-performance computing has increased, I’ve been researching all the old, famous CPUs and operating systems. I started over what I swore was going to be a computer-free vacation by delving into programming in assembly for 680x0 Macintoshes (during which time I fell in love with 68k assembly), then explored ARM chips, and finally somehow or another ended up at 4:30 AM on a Sunday working on an…

I'm Sorry, I Can't Hear You

May 7, 2007 | politics, technology
Ars Technica reports that used CDs are going to be subject to waiting periods and resale restrictions in Florida, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Utah. Ken Fisher writes: In Florida, Utah, and soon in Rhode Island and Wisconsin, selling your used CDs to the local record joint will be more scrutinized than then getting a driver’s license in those states. For retailers in Florida, for instance, there’s a “waiting period” statue that prohibits them from selling used CDs that they’ve acquired until…

Diehard Sysadmins

May 6, 2007 | technology
I don’t exactly consider myself a bad-ass system administrator. In fact, to be honest, I’m a pretty poor one. I like programming computers, not maintaining them, and the hoops that system administrators have to jump through to get everything configured and running smoothly give me headaches. Granted, machines under my dominion usually end up stable after a week or two of heavy dogfooding, and, so far as I know, no machine I’ve administered has ever been hacked (knock on wood), but…